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Native Flute School -
Program Ouline

Program Details



Native Flute Schools facilitated by Clint and Vera are one-day, weekend, or full-week workshops for people who play (or wish to play) the Native American Flute. Each NFS workshop is an opportunity to create a deeper connection with your music and how you express yourself with the Native American Flute (NAF).


We believe that expressing yourself though music is as natural a means of communication as speaking, and often more joyful and healthy. We also believe that all people are musical and that each person's level of musicality depends only on their level of experience in music-making.

The primary focus of Native Flute Schools is on:

  • Expressing yourself though organic, improvisational music-making,
  • Developing technique on the NAF and using that technique to increase your range of expressiveness, and
  • Playing with other instruments - rhythm, guitar, piano, and voice.

We've found that participants learn the most when they are actually playing the most. In NFS workshops, participants are playing most of the time! You will get an opportunity to play solo and in ensembles in many settings and many types of instruments, and work with facilitators from many different corners of music. Workshop sessions throughout the Native Flute School focus on building confidence playing the flute in many settings and styles and expressing your inner voice.

Flute players with all levels of experience are welcome! We encourage the sounds of all players in a supportive and non-critical environment. So, regardless of your current level of experience, if you want to bring your flute playing to a new level, these workshops are designed for you!

How are the Workshops Structured?

We have developed a general outline for Native Flute Schools that moves from group warmups to large-group music sessions, to smaller track-specific sessions based on level of experience, and then to small ensembles and special topics and electives. You can expect each day's sessions to follow this general outline, with specific elements and activities arranged to suit the particular needs and opportunities.

  • We believe that warmups - physical, vocal, and instrument - are a key part of music making. We use specific breath exercises, stretching, melodic and rhythmic body warmups, and exerecises on the flute to get ready to play mentally and physically.
  • Large-group sessions focus on the basics of music making and on topics that are of interest to all levels of players.
  • Track-specific sessions are usually organized based on your level of experience. Participants can join the Novice, Intermediate, or Experienced track, with each group participating in activities appropriate for their level. Participants are free to change levels during the program. See the section below on Which Level Is Best for Me?
  • Small ensembles give you an opportunity to focus intensively on techniques and song forms covered in the larger sessions. Some ensembles are coached by experienced players and others are more free-form.
  • Special topics and electives cover specific areas of special interest and are based on the areas of expertise of the co-facilitators at a specific workshop.

In addition, various workshops make the best use of co-facilitators to cover related topics such as:

  • Rhythm and Community Drumming
  • The Voice and how it relates to Flute Playing
  • Playing with other instruments, such as guitar and piano
  • The History of the Native American Flute
  • Performing Techniques and Live Sound Reinforcement
  • Flute Making
  • Playing embrochure flutes such as the Anasazi and Mojave flutes.
  • Recording Your Own Music

What Will I Learn?

Specific topics for the Native American Flute depend on the length of the workshop and the track in which you participate. Here is a general outline of the flute-specific topics covered:

Novice Track

Flute construction, care, and hygiene. Styles of flutes (Anasazi, Papago, NAF).

Fundamental playing techniques: Long tones, vibrato.

Listening techniques: bringing a flute into pitch.

The elements of music: melody, harmony, rhythm, texture, and silence.

Basic improvisation techniques: call and response and solo over drone.

Basic ornamentation: slides.

Intermediate Track

Playing techniques: dynamics, attack styles and double tonguing, timbre and textures, melody development in steps and leaps.

Listening techniques: bringing a flute into pitch, harmonic intervals.

Basic modes and scales: Mode 1, Mode 4, Major, the Blues Scale, and woven scales.

Intermediate improvisation techniques: repeated patterns, melody-hold-your-last-note, playing over a rhythm, playing parlando versus playing in meter, one-minute improvisations, traveling duets and trios, using the upper register.

Intermediate ornaments: pops, barks, clamps, trills, mordents.

Song forms: Basic melody structure and phrasing, A / B / A contrast, playing with poetry.

Technology: portable digital recorders.

Experienced Track

Advanced playing techniques: half holing, playing a drone/double flute, sing what you play / play what you sing.

Listening techniques: pitch-matching, dissonant harmonic relationships, resonance.

Advanced modes and scales: Cross fingings for chromatic notes, upper register play, Upper major, Byzantine, Spanish Gypsy, Hirajoshi.

Rhythmic elements: Playing in compound meters, Playing over complex meters, playing multiple instruments.

Advanced improvisation techniques: shadowing, playing with a piano or guitar.

Song forms: Blues, rounds, descending scales.

Settings: Playing at a memorial service, leading flute circle activities, ...

Advanced ornamentation: runs, warbling.

Performance techniques: using the microphone, conducting skills, use of effects and looping, structuring a concert.

Styles: Ethnic, blues, gospel, classical.

Beginning Players

What if you've never played the Native American Flute before? No problem!

When possible, we start beginning players by pairing them with an experienced flute player for a short initial lesson. This involves the basics of holding the flute, covering some of the holes, and breathing into the flute to begin creating flute sounds. After that, you can join the Novice track.

And if you do not have a flute, we have some flutes available from Butch Hall Flutes that you can borrow for the duration of the workshop.

Leadership Program

Some of the longer workshops offer a separate training track for people who wish to facilitate music activities at flute circles or their own music workshops.

Participants in the facilitator training programs usually arrive two days before the start of the main workshop for a program specifically designed to provide the basics of music facilitation as well as a set of activities that can be used at flute circles and music workshops. Then, during the main workshop, those new techniques and activities can be tried out in a safe and supportive environment during actual workshop sessions.

Participants completing the facilitator training program are eligible to be listed on the NFS Facilitator Roster, a way to offer your services back to the NAF community at flute circles and workshops.

Which Level Is Best for Me?

The levels of experience for track-specific sessions - Novice, Intermediate, and Experienced - allow us to address specific topics appropriate to how long you've been playing. However, you are free to begin in any level and, if you feel the need, change groups at any time (although you may find that some topics are repeated or not covered). We sometimes get experienced players participating in the novice track because they want to work on how to teach a group of novice players or want to teach the Native American Flute.

As a general guideline, Novice players have been playing one year or less, Intermediate players fall into the range of one to three years, and Experienced players have been playing for more than three years.

Who are the Facilitators?

Clint and Vera typically work with other trained music facilitators, depending on the length and size of the Native Flute School. These facilitators bring other facets of flute playing and music making to the event.

You can see a biography for Clint on this web site, and the biographies of other facilitators on the web site for the specific event.

Sample Agendas

Here are some sample outlines for Native Flute Schools of various lengths. These are offered to give you a general idea of how Native Flute Schools are structured. For details, please see the schedule for the specific event you wish to attend.

  • A three-day program typically begins Friday evening after arrival, registration, and dinner and runs through Sunday at noon.
  • A four-day Native Flute School typically begins Thursday evening after arrival, registration, and dinner and runs through Sunday at noon.
  • A one-week program typically runs from Monday evening after arrival, registration, and dinner, through a closing session that ends Sunday at noon.

Here is a sample schedule for a one-week program:

Time Mon Tue-Fri Sat Sun
9:00 –
  Whole-Group Warmup
9:30 –
Large-Group Session Large-group Session Closing Session
10:30 –
Track-specific Workshop Track-specific Workshop
11:30 –
Track-specific Workshop Track-specific Workshop
12:30 –
Lunch Break
2:00 –
Track-specific Workshop Track-specific Workshop  
3:15 –
Arrival, Welcome, and Registration Small Ensembles, Jam Groups,
and Recording
4:30 –
Small Ensembles, Jam Groups,
and Recording
5:30 –
Dinner Break
7:00 –
Evening Sessions and Electives Group Jam and Celebration

“Exceptional opening ceremony at registration orientation. Lots of subjects covered. Great for a full immersion. I got my money's worth the first day.”

“What fun to listen to such outstanding musicians in an informal setting! The Jazz class was awesome-a blast! I don't have any prior experience with jazz.I want to continue to explore. ”
— Advanced Student, Zion Canyon Native Flute School, 2008

“Thank you! What a blessing this has been for me!!! The outstanding presenters, varied and diverse curriculum, good organization & scenery made this a life changing experience!”